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Innovative Solutions: Using Case Studies to Generate Increased Nurse's Clinical Decision-Making Ability in Critical Care

Grossman, Sheila PhD, FNP-BC; Krom, Zachary R. MSN, RN; O'Connor, Rick BSN, RN, CCTN

Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing: May-June 2010 - Volume 29 - Issue 3 - p 138-142
doi: 10.1097/DCC.0b013e3181d24d86
Educational DIMENSION

Learning to care for critically ill patients requires a high level of critical thinking, clinical decision-making ability, and a substantial knowledge base. At this nursing school, an elective Critical Care Nursing course for last-semester seniors was designed to include active learning strategies, focusing on the use of case studies to facilitate learning. Results indicate significantly improved final examination scores for those involved with the case-study pedagogy. In addition, students identified enhanced communication skills. Two complex cases are presented for others to use with their educational programs.

This article describes an elective Critical Care Nursing course offered to senior nursing students which included active learning strategies focusing on the use of case studies to facilitate learning.

Sheila Grossman, PhD, FNP-BC, is a professor and coordinator of Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty at Fairfield University School of Nursing, has extensive clinical and academic experience working with critical care patients. She has published widely on teaching methods, leadership, and adult patient outcome studies.

Zachary R. Krom MSN, RN, has 6 years of experience caring for surgical/trauma intensive care patients. He now is the educator for general surgery/trauma floor and step-down unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Rick O'Connor, BSN, RN, CCTN, has a strong interest in transplantation nursing, works with abdominal transplant patients, and is certified as a clinical transplant nurse. Rick works in the surgical intensive care unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sheila Grossman, PhD, FNP-BC, Fairfield University School of Nursing, N Benson Rd, Fairfield, CT 06824 (;

Editor's Note: Nurses are encouraged to write about any policies, treatments, guidelines, and/or protocols that they have successfully implemented for their units and wish to share with other nurses. For more information, please contact the editor at

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.